The IRS has ruled that breast pumps and supplies that assist in lactation do quality as medical care and are therefore deductible medical expenses that can be paid for through Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and other medical spending accounts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics had previously requested that the IRS rule that these supplies be added to the list of qualifying FSA items, but received a denial stating that breastfeeding did not constitute medical care. The new ruling does not decide that breastfeeding is medical care of an infant, but rules that the supplies are medical because “they are for the purpose of affecting a structure or function of the body of the lactating woman.” The AAP has applauded the change as “an important victory for the health of women and children across the country by making breastfeeding a more practical option for new and working mothers.”
In other news, the Associated Press has covered the issue of access to nitrous oxide for women in labor. The piece explains that some institutions (including my own) are currently working to make nitrous oxide an option; it’s commonly available to laboring women in some other countries. The item notes at the end that “the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is reviewing the effectiveness and safety of nitrous oxide compared to other pain relief methods” – I’m on the team for this project at work, so we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as that report is available.